S4C has announced the shortlist for this year's Cân i Gymru (Song for Wales) competition. The eight finalists will now go on to compete for the grand prize in the final on 4 March.
Elin Fflur and Dafydd Du will present the competition live on S4C from Pafiliwn Bont in Pontrhydfendigaid.
There was a very good response to the competition this year, with over 120 entries, and the panel of judges faced a difficult task to choose only eight for the shortlist, which are:
Braf yw Cael Byw - Gai Toms and Philip Jones
Gwybod yn Well - Arwel Lloyd Owen
Cynnal y Fflam - Rhydian Pughe
Pan Mae’r Haul yn Codi – Aled Ellis-Davies
Cain - Nia Davies Williams and Sian Owen
Gorffen y Llun - Peter Jones and Rhys Iorwerth
Garth Celyn - Gwilym Bowen Rhys and Siân Harris
Dim Ond Ffŵl sy’n Ffoi - Derfel Thomas and ‘Rocet’ Arwel Jones
The composers are now working with music producer Meilir Gwynedd to prepare their song for the competition. Meilir is a member of the band Sibrydion, and he was responsible for the cover version of the classic festive song ‘Gŵyl y Baban’ which promoted S4C’s Christmas schedule of programmes in 2011. This is the first time he has worked on the Cân i Gymru competition.
“I think that the judging panel has made a good selection and it’s an honour to be part of such a popular programme,” says Meilir, who is enjoying the challenge.
“I find the whole process very interesting because you’ve got some people in there who are familiar faces on the Welsh music scene, but also some who compose privately in their spare time. It’s a brilliant opportunity for them to see that their work is just as good.”
One member of the jury this year is singer Heather Jones. Exactly forty years ago, in 1972, Heather sang the competition’s winning song, ‘Pan Ddaw’r Dydd’ written by Geraint Jarman.
Another former winner, who joins Heather on the judging panel is Ynyr Roberts of the group Brigyn. Ynyr came top in the competition in 2011 with the song ‘Rhywun yn Rhywle’ which he co-wrote with Steve Balsamo, star of West End show Jesus Christ Superstar.
The other two members of the jury are singer Lisa Jên Brown of the group 9Bach and versatile composer Alun 'Sbardun' Huws.
Medwyn Parry, S4C Head of Events and Event Television says, "We are delighted with the response to this year's competition, and congratulations to the eight finalists.
“I’d like to thank Meilir Gwynedd for his contribution to the competition this year and I look forward to hearing the completed songs when they’re performed at the grand final. But, it’s the opinion of the viewers and the judging panel which counts on the night.”
Viewers can vote for their favourite song during the live programme on Sunday 4 March. The song with the highest total of votes – combining the viewers’ vote and the votes from the jury - will take the top prize of £7,500, the Cân i Gymru trophy and the opportunity to represent Wales at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland.
In addition to the main prize, there is also a £2,000 prize for second place and £1,000 for the third.
The final eight songs:
There are more details on the website - s4c.co.uk/canigymru
Braf yw Cael Byw - Gai Toms and Philip Jones. Tanygrisiau, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Llanfrothen, Penrhyndeudraeth
Gai and Phil were inspired to write the song while sitting in the beer garden of The Ring, Llanfrothen on a summer's day. They noticed the beautiful foliage of the Chestnut trees nearby in the sunshine. There was a special feeling to that day and the inspiration was flowing!
Gai experienced great success as a member of the popular band Anweledig, and he also released three albums under the name Mim Twm Llai. He is now performing under his own name. Philip is best known as a member of the band Gwibdaith Hen Frân. He has also played with Y Mistecs, Estella, Vates and Jac. The two have worked together closely in the past, most notably as Mim Twm Llai.
This is the third consecutive year that Gai has made it through to the Cân i Gymru final - is this his big year?
Gwybod yn Well - Arwel Lloyd Owen. From Llansannan originally, now lives in Llanelli
This is a simple song about the end of a relationship, and the regret and sorrow that follows. Arwel hopes it will bring something different to this year's competition.
Arwel is the lead guitarist for Al Lewis Band and he also performs as a solo artist under the name Gildas. Originally from Llansannan, Arwel now lives in Llanelli and is a teacher at Ysgol Parc y Tywyn.
Cynnal y Fflam - Rhydian Pughe. Cemaes, Machynlleth
In his song Rhydian is trying to convey the idea of building a large bonfire. Making a successful bonfire takes patience, effort and thorough preparation and you must have a solid foundation before lighting the flame, and according to Rhydian this can be applied to many aspects of life.
Rhydian comes from the Dyfi Valley and lives on the family farm in Cemaes, near Machynlleth. He works part time for the Farmers Union of Wales in Aberystwyth. He has been composing since a young age and is a member of the group Hufen Ia Poeth.
Pan Mae’r Haul yn Codi - Aled Ellis-Davies. Caernarfon
This is a simple and happy song which extends a positive feeling of happiness following a dark period. The song is a tribute to Tecwyn Lloyd Jones, who was in the group Hitchcock with Aled, and the guitar sections on Pan Mae’r Haul yn Codi were inspired by Tecwyn’s work on Hitchcock’s song Cewri.
Aled is from Caernarfon and has been a member of several successful bands, including Am Dwrw, Amddiffyn and Hitchcock. Although Aled hasn’t performed in ten years, he still maintains a keen interest in music and enjoys composing, recording and playing the guitar.
Cain - Nia Davies Williams and Sian Owen. Llyn Peninsula and Anglesey
The songs tells the story of a woman on a beach in a hot country as she watches people play chess in the sand, and compares the game with life.
Nia, from the Llyn Peninsula, is studying for an MA in music at Bangor University. Sian Owen was born in Llanuwchllyn but grew up in Anglesey. She works as a translator, writer and freelance editor. Sian wrote the words and Nia composed the melody. It is quite an unusual partnership since they have not yet met!
Gorffen y Llun - Peter Jones and Rhys Iorwerth. Both originally from Caernarfon, but now live in Chester and Cardiff
There is a simple message behind this song. It tells the story of a young man who sees a beautiful woman time and time again at a cafe in town. The girl is playing games with his heart but he is sure that she is ‘the one’.
Rhys and Peter come originally from Caernarfon, but Peter has lived in Chester for three years, and Rhys now lives in Cardiff. Rhys won the Chair at the Wrexham and District National Eisteddfod 2011. Both were members of the band Quidest when they were pupils at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen.
Garth Celyn- Gwilym Bowen Rhys and Siân Harris. Caernarfon
This folk song is inspired by an historic location in the area. Garth Celyn in Abergwyngregyn is thought to be the home of Llywelyn Fawr and Siwan. The song talks about Siwan’s betrayal of Llywelyn after he leaves her time and time again to go to battle.
This song is written by a family team of mother and son. Gwilym performs and composes for the group Bandana, and he hopes to study archaeology at Cardiff University next year. Siân is a PE teacher and she has almost no experience of writing songs.
Dim Ond Ffŵl sy’n Ffoi - Derfel Thomas and ‘Rocet’ Arwel Jones. Nantlle Valley / Llandudno and Rhos-y-Bol/Aberystwyth
The song tell the story of a father and son, or mother and daughter, walking hand in hand on a beach. The song can be interpreted as a message about the Welsh language, and the invaluable legacy of transferring the language from parent to child.
Originally from the Nantlle Valley, Derfel Thomas has been a teacher at Ysgol Gynradd Tudno, Llandudno for ten years. Author and poet Arwel was born in Rhos-y-Bol, Anglesey, but he now lives in Aberystwyth and works at the National Library of Wales.